** SPOILERS: On Rey and Luke in The Last Jedi **
Since my first viewing on Friday, I can’t stop thinking about how we’re all Rey.
Like Rey, we’re a bunch of “nobodies” who grew up on stories of the legendary Luke Skywalker. We’ve idolized him. Revered him. Built him up so much in our minds that he’s become something of a myth.
Rey spends the first part of the movie following him around, desperate for direction: “Master Luke, we need you to fight the First Order! Master Luke, we need you to save the galaxy! Master Luke, we can’t do this without you!”
And we’re right there with her, waiting eagerly for Luke to wave his hands, do something amazing, and solve all the problems. But he doesn’t.
When Rey realizes that Luke isn’t the perfect hero she always imagined him to be, she’s shocked. Horrified. She struggles to reconcile this new information with her world-view — and so does the audience. It’s hard to accept. Uncomfortable. Frustrating. It feels like a betrayal.
We, the audience and Rey, have to recognize that Luke Skywalker isn’t a saint. He’s just a man — a man who saved the galaxy, yes, but also one who has flaws and failures. It doesn’t make him a bad person. It makes him a PERSON, full-stop. Human. (And, in my opinion, it makes him more interesting than a “perfect” Luke could ever be.)
Luke Skywalker doesn’t owe us anything.
Like Rey, we have to accept Luke’s failures and learn from them. Instead of waiting for a hero to come save us, we have to become the hero and save ourselves. We go on this journey with her, and if we’re open to it, arrive at the same place.
Your heroes are flawed. They’ll inevitably let you down. Life is full of disappointment. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you’ll fail.
You have to accept all of this in order to grow up. It’s going to hurt — but you’re going to be all right. You’ll learn from this and you’ll do better.
In the end, Luke does reignite the rebellion — and in doing so, he passes the torch. Just as Rey can continue the fight without Luke Skywalker, Star Wars can transition into a new era (and welcome a new generation of fans).
It’s harder for some of us to accept than others. (Purely anecdotal, but in my social circle, I’ve noticed that guys over the age of 35 or 40 seem to be most put off by Luke’s characterization, while younger men and women are more open to it. Maybe it’s a generational thing?) But it’s what we need to hear.
Kudos to Rian Johnson. His characterization of Luke was brilliant and he achieved exactly what he set out to do.